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Friday, August 28, 2009


West Chester Guerilla Drive-In. Photo:

Guerilla Drive-Ins Elsewhere

KFC Collective Outdoor Screenings, San Francisco

Pirate Drive-In, Kansas City, Missouri

Bring Popcorn, Huntsville, Alabama

Mystery Movie Ride, Portland, Oregon

Renegade Picture Show, Norman, Oklahoma

Guerilla Drive-In - West Chester, Pennsylvania
GeriljaKino Grenland, Grenland, Norway (in a tunnel! with photos! in Norwegian!)

Guerilla Drive-In, Victoria, British Columbia

Dolores Park Movie Night, San Francisco

Guerilla Porn, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Southern Maine Guerilla Drive-In, Portland, Maine

Deproduction Drive-in, Denver, Colorado

Mobile Movie - Berkeley, California

Liberation Drive-In - Oakland, California

Guerilla Drive-In - West Chester, Pennsylvania

Lawn Chair Drive-In - Philadelphia, PA

Guerilla Drive-In - Tampa City, Florida (defunct)

Atomic Shock Theatre - Minneapolis, Minnesota
the Vampire Hookers Debacle

Guerilla Drive-In - Los Angeles, California (defunct) video

Guerilla Drive-In - Dallas, Texas (defunct)

Rooftop Films, Brooklyn, New York

Other Projects Around Town You May Not Know About

It occurred to us that there are a bunch of things going on around Santa Cruz, projects that we are involved in or support. There must be more free things going on here than in any other town its size anywhere. (Ignore the abominable article in the Good Times this week about free things to do in Santa Cruz.) Look at any bulletin board in town and find dozens of free, interesting, and public things to do. These are just some of the exciting grassroots projects that make this town unique. Here's a list suitable for posting on your fridge.

The Bike Church
Community Bike Shop and Tool Cooperative
You need not be a mechanic to use the Bike Church's do-it-yourself repair facility; people of all aptitudes make use of the shop. Church ministers (mechanics) are there to help and get as involved in the repair of your bicycle as necessary. We encourage people to learn by getting their hands dirty - familiarize themselves with the machine that they rely on to get them from place to place. The Bike Church is part of The Hub at 224 Walnut Ave, Downtown.

Santa Cruz Free Skool
Free Skool offers a variety of classes in homes, community centers, and open spaces all over Santa Cruz. Free Skool is a completely grassroots effort, a collection of locals who've decided to act collectively and autonomously to create a skill-sharing network, a school without institutional control. It is an opportunity to learn from others and share what they know, to help create self-reliance, vital communities, and beauty in the world. Free Skool calendars are distributed widely in coffee shops, restaurants, and community centers.

Free Radio Santa Cruz - 101.1 FM
Free Radio Santa Cruz has been on the air for almost ten years without a license. We broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in defiance of federal regulations. We go on the air to protest corporate control of the airwaves, to bring local control and local accountability to our community media, to produce and broadcast a diversity of programs that are simply unavailable on corporate controlled stations. FRSC is part of a growing micro-radio movement, supporting the work of other independent media and other pirate and noncommercial web and broadcast stations. On the air at 101.1 FM.

Food Not Bombs
Food Not Bombs offers community meals open to all, as an opportunity to build community, reclaim public space, protest hunger, poverty, militarization, and all forms of oppression. Serving downtown two days a week: Mondays 4:00pm @ Pacific and Cooper, and Wednesdays 4:00pm @ the south end of the Farmer's Market

Santa Cruz Indymedia
Web-based local news and info source, focused on local issues and the direct impact of larger issues on our community. The Independent Media Center is a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media's distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity. Santa Cruz Indymedia is an autonomous member of the Independent Media Center network. Online.

Santa Cruz Farmer's Market
You already know about the Wednesday Farmer's Market, but here's a reminder. Not quite a revolutionary organization, but still, this is our town's beating heart. Here is the cross-section of so many of the cultures that make up our community. Fresh food, organic produce, music, entertainment, and friends. Year round, Wednesday afternoons, Lincoln and Cedar.

Santa Cruz Anarchist Library
Need a good radical history book to curl up with in the rainy winter months? Or a great book on politics to take with you on your summer travels? Need respite from the ho-hum assigned reading in your classes? Visit the Anarchist Library where you can check out radical books that might not be available in your local library. The collection covers such diverse subjects as anarchy, situationists, history, politics, fiction, ecology, indiginous studies, feminism, and psychology. Also current grassroots and radical events are posted. At the Sacred Grove, 924 Soquel Ave

And of course, you already know about:

Guerilla Drive-In
Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In is an outdoor movie theatre under the stars that springs up unexpectedly in the fields and industrial wastelands. Beyond showing great movies and bringing a broad community together, part of our mission is helping reclaim public space and transforming our urban environment into the joyful playground it should be. Every other Friday all year. Summer series at the railroad track at Fair Ave on the Westside.

Renegade Picture Show, Norman, Oklahoma


May Day Showing, Watsonville, California

Contact Us

Email us with suggestions, shorts, questions, confusion, hate-mail, whatever

Recent Press

Recent Press

scene and unseen - KQED Arts Blog
"As you can see, I'm an addict. There's just something deliciously mischievous and intellectually sexy about a clandestine group of strangers gathering together in some shabby, unsuspecting space to watch completely obscure movies together."

Walk-In - Santa Cruz Good Times
"The Collective's inspiration for the drive-in stemmed not only from their love of movies, but because its members are also on a mission to reclaim public space. In Europe people gather in squares at night to drink, dance and kiss. In Santa Cruz, on the other hand, nightlife in public places is unheard of. "The perceived solution to crime, drugs and homelessness is to make public spaces illegal at night..."

Now Playing, a Digital Brigadoon - New York Times
"Part of why we're doing this is to reclaim public space and give people a way to use the nighttime that's not mediated by commerce," he said. "In our town, the parks close at sundown, you have to buy something at coffee shops. We wanted to give people a way to interact with each other outdoors without having to spend any money."

"Guerilla Drive-In" group grabs unused space to show movies - Santa Cruz Sentinel
The philosophy, he said, is taking patches of "industrial wasteland" and "turning them into places where people gather for fun. We make these places safer when we're there, we have great relationships with the neighbors and provide an alternative to partying."

Email List

Guerilla Drive-In, Downtown, Santa Cruz

Email List

The best way to keep up with what we're doing, to hear about special showings, etc, is to subscribe to the GDI email list. Well, actually, word-of-mouth is the best way, so this is the second best way.

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Photo Gallery

Check out the full gallery of Guerilla Drive-In photos on Flickr: Guerilla Drive-In Photo Pool


Guerilla Drive-In, Downtown, Santa Cruz


Woowoo!  We finally put together our winter schedule.


** Since 2002 · 122 films · 13 locations **
2009-2010 Winter Schedule

An outdoor movie theater under the stars that springs up unexpectedly in the fields and industrial wastelands. Beyond showing great free movies year-round and bringing a broad community together, part of our mission is reclaiming public space and transforming our urban environment. 

3rd Friday of Every Month all Winter
Locations vary (see below). Always free!

PLUS thrilling and funny short films, an intermission, and great company.

BRING blankets, pillows, friends, drink, & snackies to share for intermission. Donations to support the project are more than welcome.

Minority Report                     8pm Dec 18th

This overlooked sci-fi psycho-thriller reminds us of the dangers of inviting an all-seeing government to monitor every action of our lives and of the risks of arresting people for a crime they have yet to commit. Location: SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave

Star Wars Marathon (Episodes 4-6)   6pm Jan 15th

The original trilogy. Set in a faraway galaxy, both a coming-of-age story and a story of redemption. Insur-gents battle an oppressive and tyrannical empire. Full of good and evil forces, space battles, ‘droids, aliens, pathos, comedy, dark moments, and hope. Note that we are starting as soon as it is dark! Location: SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave

Kontroll                            8pm Feb 19th

In the perpetual night of the underground subway sys-tem, a motley crew of ragtag ticket “kontrollers” patrol the trains to check that no one rides for free. Indifferent or belligerent passengers, a myste-rious love interest, a regime set on competition, and a sinister serial killer.  Eerie, haunting, and bleakly comic. Location: SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave

Encounters at the End of the World  8pm Mar 19th

Filmmaker Werner Herzog travels to Antarctica to cap-ture this landscape's rarely seen beauty on film. With a keen eye for the wonders and sometimes hilari-ous peculiarities of this icy land's animal and human inhabitants, Herzog offers an astounding look at the world's most inhospitable landscape. Location: Sub-Rosa, 703 Pacific Ave

Voces inocentes                    8pm Apr 16th

Based on the true story of  Oscar Torres, Voces Ino-centes follows the drama of a young boy caught in the cross-fire of the Salvadoran Civil War. Chava just wants to be a normal 12 year-old, but faced with the no-win decision of joining the Salvadoran army or joining up with a band of guerillas, mere survival becomes a daily struggle. Location: SubRosa



Friday, August 21, 2009

[guerilla-drive-in] Man on Wire at the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In Friday August 28 8:00 Under the Soquel Avenue Bridg


Man on Wire

Insight into tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal,  high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century." Winner of the Academy Award for best documentary.

Friday August 28th, 2009 8:00 pm
Under the Soquel Avenue Bridge
over the San Lorenzo River, Santa Cruz
(Please note, this location is a change from the one listed on the 2009 summer schedule; a mural project makes the original location impossible, and, therefore, the location has been changed to the river bank under the bridge.)

Always Free!

is an outdoor movie theater under the stars that springs up in the fields and industrial wastelands. Beyond showing great movies and bringing a broad community together, part of our mission is helping reclaim public space and transforming our urban environment into the joyful playground it should be.

Plus thrilling and funny short films, an intermission, great company and a guaranteed good time!

Bring blankets, pillows, anything you need to be comfortable in the great outdoors, friends, drinks and snacks  and anything to share. Donations to support the project are more than welcome.

URBAN WASTELAND LOCATION: From downtown, head south on Soquel Avenue. At Riverside, by the Royal Taj, turn right. Follow the path down to the sandy area under the bridge.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Rise of the guerrilla drive-in

Sub Rosa’s founders Larry Clow (left) and Bryan White announce shows on short notice via the Web. Audio is played on FM radio.
Joanne Ciccarello/Staff

Rise of the guerrilla drive-in

Mobile, open-air movie theaters pop up across the country.

On a July evening, Larry Clow and Bryan White hang two white dropcloths from the back of a gas station in Dover, N.H., to screen the 1979 flick, "The Warriors." They prep the projector and switch on an FM transmitter as 10 cars pull into a gravel parking lot to enjoy the show. It's not unlike the first drive-in movie theater experience.

In 1933, Richard Hollingshead Jr. projected home movies onto a screen hanging between two trees in his backyard in Camden, N.J.

Originally, it was a marketing idea he dreamed up to get people to purchase oil and other products from his family's gas station. Seventy-six years later, Mr. Hollingshead's invention is struggling to survive.

In their 1950s heyday, drive-in movie theaters around the nation reached 5,000. Today, there are 383, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association.

But avid movie-lovers and those who have fond memories of watching movies under the stars are trying to bring back the essence of the drive-in by doing it themselves. They're lugging projectors, FM transmitters, and even snacks in the back of their cars and screening movies at locations as diverse as the side of a Cineplex and a grain silo in the middle of a field. Call it the guerrilla drive-in. Across the United States, people are hosting screenings of cult classics and mainstream movies.

In West Chester, Pa., John Young invites people to secret screenings by preparing a scavenger hunt. As the founder of the West Chester Guerilla Drive-In, he says the only way people can find the location of the movie is by hunting down the MacGuffin – an AM transmitter broadcasting a secret code – hidden somewhere in the middle of town. His movie events usually require a bit of hiking or a sense of adventure. Think watching the 1980s horror flick "The Thing" in January snow or sitting on the top of a parking garage overlooking a city's clock tower while watching "Back to the Future." Since 2004, Mr. Young has been screening all his movies on a 16-millimeter projector housed in the sidecar of his 1977 BMW motorcycle.

In Oklahoma City, Aaron Gibson has been showing fan favorites such as "The Big Lebowski" and "Raising Arizona" on the side of a concrete warehouse adjacent to a rock climbing gym he co-owns. He founded "The Renegade Drive-In" in 2007 and before each screening shows old commercials and drive-in movie theater clips from the past.

In Santa Cruz, Calif., a group of six people, who formed the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In, have screened 99 movies in 13 locations since 2002. The group projects movies underneath a bridge overlooking a river or on the side of a local Cineplex and views the shows as a way to bring community together and reclaim public space, says Wes Modes, a member of the group. "A lot of times we're showing movies in violation of the law," he adds. "We want to challenge those laws."

Watching movies under the stars goes back to 1906, when Hawaiians used to watch silent Kinescope films projected on the side of buildings, says Susan Sanders, coauthor of "The American Drive-In Movie Theatre" and "Drive-In Movie Memories."

"As soon as the projector was invented, people started trying to figure out a way to watch movies outdoors," she says. But Hollingshead "figured a way to marry the car and the movie. It was brilliant." For the past 10 years, Ms. Sanders says she's seen more people re-creating drive-in experiences in places such as museums, parks, and hotels. And as the recession has taken hold, the drive-in movie theater has experienced a rebirth of sorts, she says. "If you were going to go out for an evening, the drive-in was something that was really affordable."

Bryan Kennedy, founder of Mobile Movie, a do-it-yourself drive-in, says more people (around 60-70 cars per show) have been coming to his screenings around San Francisco perhaps because of the down economy. "Lots of people come out to the show because it's free or cheap and it's something new to try. It sure beats paying $20 at the Cineplex."

Mr. Kennedy started Mobile Movie after hearing about the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In and began screening movies on the sides of buildings and watching them in cars with his friends. Eventually, he created a website with a tutorial to show others how to set up their own drive-ins. His website now lists 255 Mobile Movie chapters, who host their own drive-in screenings worldwide.

Starting a guerrilla drive-in may seem simple, but as White and Clow, cofounders of the Sub Rosa Drive-In, discovered, it can be tricky. During their first secret screening, the car battery died and the movie had to end early. During the second screening, the cops told them they had to shut down. Things only went downhill from there.

After a local newspaper, the Foster's Daily Democrat, covered their makeshift drive-in, Clow and White were contacted by Swank Motion Pictures, a licensing company, who notified the group that it was illegal to screen a movie without paying for licensing. Now, they pay $100 per screening out of their own pocket – something many hosts of guerrilla drive-ins do. While the screenings are usually free, the hosts of these groups regularly accept donations.

"The first thing that we did when it became clear we were going to have to charge or pay for our licenses was put a call out on our website. Within two hours, we amassed 200 bucks," says White. At their screenings, many are happy to pitch in. At the third Sub Rosa screening, one couple gave Clow and White $10 before the show, for example.

But not all drive-ins pay for licensing. The Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In has not paid for licensing for the past seven years, says Mr. Modes. "We figure that if the corporations that own the copyright want to pursue [Santa Cruz] Guerilla Drive-In, it would probably be a terrible PR move on their part." Modes says they have never had a complaint about licensing and have only encountered police around issues concerning their use of amplified sound.

Licensing issues aside, the creators of guerrilla drive-ins are on a mission to bring back the drive-in theater experience to the masses – whether it's watching a movie in a car or setting up a few lawn chairs to catch a flick.

White, who has always been fascinated by movies, remembers seeing "The Empire Strikes Back" at a drive-in when he was growing up in Binghamton, N.Y. "It just blew my mind. The screen was the size of my house." Now, he wants to share that experience with others by screening movies at his own drive-in theater.

Although drive-ins will probably never experience a boom as they did in the 1950s because of competing forms of entertainment, people are still nostalgic about watching movies outdoors, says Sanders. "Outdoor movies will never die," she adds. "There's something really magical about watching movies under the stars."